Circumcision is a medical procedure that can be performed at any age, when necessary. However, it is most often performed in children or teenagers. Keep reading to find out when circumcision may be recommended by your doctor.
What is Circumcision?
Circumcision is a surgical procedure that can be performed to remove the foreskin. The foreskin is the retractable skin that covers the end of the penis. Although male circumcision is sometimes performed for cultural or religious reasons, it is also sometimes needed for medical reasons.
Baby circumcision is mainly performed for cultural or religious reasons, so it is very rare in the UK. When parents choose to have their sons circumcised, they usually arrange the procedure within a few days of the birth. At this age, the procedure is very simple to perform. However, while there are some possible health benefits associated with baby circumcision, there is no medical reason for healthy babies to have this procedure.
Circumcision in Boys
Most circumcisions in the UK are performed during childhood or adolescence. The recommended timing of the procedure will depend on the reason for having it. In many cases, the procedure will need to be performed as soon as symptoms appear and the problem is diagnosed. Your doctor might recommend having surgery right away if your son has one of the following conditions:
- Recurring infections or inflammation, which is also called balanitis
- Recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs), but only when they are severe and don’t respond to other treatments
- Balanitis xerotica obliterans, when phimosis or a tight foreskin is caused by scarring and inflammation
- Paraphimosis, when the foreskin has been pulled back but can’t return to its original position (this must be treated quickly to prevent problems such as interruptions in the blood supply)
However, sometimes it is better to wait for a while before trying surgery. If your son has phimosis, which means that the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back from the head of the penis, it isn’t always necessary to operate right away.
When boys are born, the foreskin is always too tight to pull back. The foreskin will usually start to separate from the head of the penis when boys reach the age of about two. It should be fully separated and retractable by the age of five. However, as will all stages of development in children, this can take a little longer for some boys.
It is usually best to see if the problem resolves itself over time. In many cases, the foreskin will retract by the age of about 10. If this doesn’t happen or if the symptoms are severe, then it may be necessary to consider surgery.
Circumcision at Older Ages
It is possible to be circumcised in adulthood, but this usually only happens when problems develop at an older age. Men may need to be circumcised if they develop phimosis, paraphimosis or have problems such as scarring or inflammation. However, other treatments will usually be tried first in order to avoid an operation.
Although circumcision can be performed in adulthood, you shouldn’t delay the procedure if your son already has phimosis or other health problems related to the foreskin. Conditions like phimosis can be very painful and living with the condition can make boys feel embarrassed and may damage their self-esteem. Our healing powers also tend to decline with age, so boys can recover more easily from the procedure if they have it sooner rather than later. The skin will usually heal within a few days for boys, but it can take up to 10 days to heal in adult men.